CNHI News Service

Sports

December 31, 2012

Playoff berth marks dramatic turnaround for Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts' season is a story of an unlikely turnaround and a new coach's battle against cancer.

As inspiring as the tale of 2012 may be, the Colts say an important chapter is still unfinished.

“The story has yet to be written," said rookie tight end Coby Fleener. "Ultimately, it’s what we do in the playoffs that means something. Getting there is one thing, winning games there is another.”

The Colts go to Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs next weekend to play a team head coach Chuck Pagano knows well.

Pagano spent the past four years as a defensive coach for the Ravens.

“It’ll be a great challenge," he said. "They’ve got a great team, and they’ve got great players all over the place."

The Ravens rested several starters Sunday and lost 23-17 in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore (10-6) won the AFC North division title but has lost four of its last five contests.

Indianapolis (11-5), meanwhile, has won nine of 11 en route to a wildcard berth. The team enters the postseason with serious momentum.

Sunday’s 28-16 upset against the Houston Texans likely raised the Colts’ profile across the league, even if it did little to change attitudes inside the locker room.

“As a team, we’ve been confident in ourselves all year,” said quarterback Andrew Luck. “… (I)t’s always been a very confident locker room, so it is nice to get a win before the playoffs and have a little mojo going in.”

Luck is among a host of rookies who will be making their first playoff appearance next weekend. He said the youngsters will rely on veterans such as Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne and Dwight Freeney, who have spent much of their careers on playoff teams.

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